Indian among 4 missing 24 hrs after fire on ship

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Mumbai: The Indian Coast Guards launched a rescue operation near Lakshadweep island after a container ship reported an explosion late on Tuesday.

"Search Operations are on and Coast Guard assets have been pressed into action, It is our priority to save and rescue the four missing crew and also continue our efforts to salvage the vessel with assistance of specialized vessels which is being arranged in coordination with the Ship agency", Coast Guard Commander (West) IG KR Nautiyal was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

Apart from Indian, Philipino, British, Romanian and Thai crew were also present on the ship.

At the time of the distress call, the ship was at a distance of 340 nautical miles from Agatti Isles in Lakshadweep Islands. Maersk Line said it will investigate the matter in cooperation with all relevant authorities.

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The carrier said the crew had sent out a distress signal after firefighting efforts were unsuccessful.

The Maersk Line vessel caught fire in the Arabian Sea on its route from Singapore to the Suez Canal on Tuesday.

The remaining 22 crew members who were evacuated to ALS Ceres are enroute to Sri Lanka, while another four crew members remain missing. Out of the 27 crew members, 13 are Indians including the captain of the ship.

"The evacuated crew is obviously distressed, with two crew members now receiving medical first aid onboard the ALS Ceres. We are in contact with the family of the deceased and our thoughts and condolences go to them", said Søren Toft, chief operating officer at Maersk.

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Apart from the 13 Indians, the container ship also had nine people from the Philippines, two from Thailand and one each from Romania, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting the vessel was carrying unsafe cargo, although the cause of fire, which broke out in a cargo hold, is still unknown and the fire continues to rage.

Indeed, such is the limited transparency of the container industry that nobody, including shipping lines and the masters of vessels, knows for sure what has actually been loaded into the millions of boxes being transported around the world every year.

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